Chinese law magazine “Rule of Law Weekly” interviewed six Chinese people who are working in Africa. Each individual works in a different country and they all have a story to tell. The following is the fifth installment in the six-part series.
Rule of Law Reporter Ji Dongye Translation by Erik Myxter
Du Qing (pseudonym) is one of Beijing Construction Group’s electrical engineers. Since the beginning of 2009 until the end of 2012 he was in West Africa’s Angola. Because the project was completed, 32-year-old Du Qing came back from Angola to China. Because of his family he does not plan to come back to Angola again.
Du Qing’s company’s project was in a suburb of Angola’s capital. After more than 27 years of civil war, the inequality between the rich and the poor has become a huge phenomenon. “Here there are many Chinese people. It is said that the local population (of Angola) is around 20 million people, where the population of Chinese people here is 260,000. But the foundation of the Chinese in Angola are people who come to work on a project, do business or are migrant workers, there aren’t any people who are immigrating here to stay.” He said, “There are many engineers and also some people who engage in foreign trade.”
The rhythm of live in Angola is not particularly fast. Here the local people go to work at nine in the morning and get off of work at three in the afternoon. That being said, many of the Chinese people will work overtime.
Some Chinese people find it difficult to accept Angola’s leisurely lifestyle. “At customs, the workers inspect baggage in a laid-back manner. This will make the Chinese people who are eager to go home very worried.” Du Qing says.
Every time he goes to the supermarket checkout Du Qing must sort out his money and put it on the counter. “In the past some Chinese people did not head to this custom and they threw money at the worker, if you do that the (Angolan) people will be very angry.”
Working in Angola is hard, but the salary is comparatively higher so there are many people who still come here. “Chinese people are very hard working, they especially can eat bitterness and worked tirelessly. Chinese people can easily take all of these jobs in Africa.”
Before he went abroad, Du Qing’s company gave him relatively good amount of training, but now there is less training available and it just mostly covers safety.
Xie Fei (pseudonym) and Du Qing worked for the same company doing office administrative work for almost two years. Xie Fei told Rule of Law reporters “before I left, the company would be united in giving anti-infectious disease vaccines.”
“In that company and at China Iron and CITIC we usually could not go out alone. We don’t have much contact with other projects Chinese people are doing. Most often we are focused on doing our work.” Du Qing said.
Du Qing genuinely felt that Chinese people have made a large contribution over there. “For example we have constructed basic infrastructure, residential areas, roads and railways.”
“The economy is developing quickly over there, there are large supermarket chains and tons of infrastructure has been built up.” Du Qing said.
In Angola, most of the local people are very friendly towards Chinese people. Xie Fei says: “Most of the people are very enthused about China’s attitude. I have heard that some other Chinese company’s host parties with their local African employees; everyone gets together and has a great time.
“Local traffic police enforcement is relatively strict, they can stop you to see if you have a fire extinguisher inside your car or if you brought your passport or if you broke one of the traffic rules.” Du Qing said. “But on the other hand, they are not as strict with the local population.” Xie Fei said.
In Angola, personal safety is always Du Qing focal point. “You must rely on yourself to be safe.” Du Qing told the reporter, “When you go outside you want to go with someone else, do not go out alone. Also before you go out you want to tell your company. Let your leaders know where you are going and if they need to how can they get in contact with you.”
A normal day’s work is very hard, Xie Fei and Du Qing both only had one day off a week. “The company’s organization structure is like a small island, where the scenery was beautiful, and I could eat all the shrimp I wanted. I also had the chance to go to Moon Bay, which was naturally formed by crater landscape.” Xie Fei said.
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